The March fitness slump is something Julie DiLeo knows all too well. Each January the personal trainer welcomes what she calls “a significant number” of new members to her women-only gym, Women’s Fitness of Boston. These women are amped up and ready to tackle the fitness goals they made as part of their New Year’s fitness resolutions.
And yet, Julie says, “toward the end of March, some clients may find it difficult to maintain, and this is when we may see a decline in club usage.”
So how do you keep going to the gym when the Christmas cookies and New Year’s champagne toasts are a distant memory, but it’s still early in the new year? Julie has some advice.
It’s hard to motivate yourself to go back to the gym if you’re dreading everything before the steamy locker-room shower. That’s why it’s important to find a workout you enjoy doing. Hate running on the treadmill? Try a cardio class. Hate cardio? Check out yoga or strength training.
Julie recommends her gym’s group fitness classes, saying that clients love them because of how much variety they offer. You’ll probably have to try a few things until you find your thing, but it will be worth it when you realize you actually look forward to going to the gym—or at least, don’t feel like sighing deeply while pulling on your gym shoes.
Whether it’s your work wife or your actual wife, a workout buddy can help you be accountable, Julie says. Don’t disappoint them!
“Set a reminder on your phone as if you have an appointment/meeting,” Julie suggests. This can give you the extra push to get into the gym, especially if you’re the type of person who loves a highly regimented routine.
Maybe this means keeping it packed and stored next to your desk at work or even renting an overnight locker at the club and stashing your stuff there. If your stuff is already together, it’s harder to justify not going to your workout. Because are you really going to not work out AND waste time packing something you don’t use? Possibly, but hopefully not!
You may not feel like you’re making progress sometimes, and that can make you give up on your fitness goals. But when you use wearable technology to track your workout, you know exactly how hard you’re working.
Julie personally loves working out with Myzone heart-rate monitors, which she offers at her club. The Myzones not only monitor heart rate, but also calories burned and time spent exercising, and they convert those variables into Myzone Effort Points (MEPs). The addition of points makes working out feel a bit like a game, especially when the points are broadcast on a monitor in the gym, like they are at Women’s Fitness of Boston.
“Clients starting on a fitness journey for the very first time may see results very quickly and suddenly the ‘gains’ may seem to taper off,” Julie says. “Our bodies have the capacity to adapt and no longer will respond to the same workouts overtime. And you may not continue to see the same benefits.”
That’s known as the workout plateau, and it is responsible for lots of people giving up on their fitness goals. However, it can be avoided.
“Switch the style of your fitness routine every 8–12 weeks,” Julie advises. To do so effectively, it’s important to have a basic understanding of the fundamentals of fitness.
According to Julie, the fundamentals of fitness say that in order to keep improving, you have to work harder as your body adapts. That means lifting heavier weights, for instance, or doing more reps with the weights you’ve been using.
Basically, you should keep challenging your body to do harder things. Don’t keep working out the same way as when you started at the gym.
Julie says that fitness goals for women in particular should include some form of weightlifting in order to both tone muscles and keep burning calories after a workout ends. She recommends classes like her gym’s Power Flex 45/30, a low-impact, but high-intensity workout using things like dumbbells and the client’s own body weight to build muscle.
Julie says that this is especially key for beginners. “At Women’s Fitness of Boston, we recommend meeting with a personal trainer for a fitness assessment to help put together a specific plan for you.” That way, you have some direction when you start working out on your own.
She thinks face time with a trainer is so important that she includes a free 30-minute personal-training session with her gym’s 30-day trial.
“As women, we tend to take care of everyone around us and put ourselves very last on the list,” Julie says. “We take care of our children, our spouses, our parents even. Give yourself permission to take care of you. Realize that is is all right to do so.”